Overall verdict

* Year-long Altea XL test * Photographer's life with the car * Magical boot, annoying niggles elsewhere...

08 September 2008
Overall verdict

One thing that never went wrong was the Direct-Shift 'box, which was silky-smooth at all times.

It sometimes made the car slow to pull away from rest, but it was so good the rest of the time that I could forgive it.

However, it was supposed to boost efficiency and economy but it didn't.

My average of 37.1mpg was too low, especially given that most of my mileage is done on the motorway.

Gripes aside, I enjoyed living with the Altea. Yes, there was too much wind and road noise (even when the suspension was in perfect fettle), the dashboard plastics felt too cheap, the armrest was uncomfortable and the centre console dug into my left leg, but overall it lived up to its billing as a large, practical family car.

The clever touches that impressed me early in the car's life continued to do so throughout my time with it, and the sheer space on offer was magic.

The Seat dealer back-up was also brilliant at all times. It's just a shame the car was let down by so many niggling reliability issues.